How to become a BCaBA (Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst)

Are you thinking of becoming a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) but aren’t sure of all the details? In this article we’ll discuss what this kind of certification is, how you can get one, and what career options are available.

What is a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA)?

Behavior analysts by and large study principles of learning and behavior. Behavior analysts can study a wide variety of subjects, like:

  • aging
  • autism
  • education
  • health
  • behavioral economics
  • special education
  • animal behavior
  • cultural practices
  • verbal behavior/language

There are several types of certifications available in behavior analysis. Each certification has it’s own unique set of requirements. Requirements include coursework and experience.

Featured Programs



Behavior analysts with a graduate degree and can earn certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). BCBA certification requirements can be met through four unique pathways. Aspiring BCBA’s can meet eligibility requirements by completing:

  • ABAI-accredited degree;
  • Behavior analytic coursework;
  • Faculty teaching and research; OR
  • Postdoctoral experience

The rigorous BCBA certification process includes coursework and supervised fieldwork elements. Professionals with their BCBA certification can:

  • conduct behavior assessments
  • analyze data
  • train others
  • write and revise behavior-treatment plans
  • oversee those treatment plans

Board Certified Behavior Analysts supervise the work of BCaBAs. BCBA’s who earn their doctoral degree can apply for advanced certification as a BCBA-D.


If you are a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA), that simply means that you have an undergraduate-level certification in applied behavior analysis through the BACB (Behavior Analyst Certification Board). Undergraduate applied behavior analysis practitioners can earn their certification as a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) and work under the supervision of BCBA. They usually have more of a supportive role gathering data, maintaining records, etc. Becoming certified has its own requirements and benefits, as we will see.


Practitioners over 18 with their high school diploma can earn their certification as a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT). This paraprofessional certificate is awarded to applied behavior analysis professionals who:

  • complete a 40 clock hour training
  • pass a background check
  • pass the RBT exam

RBT’s can usually complete this process in about a month. An RBT works directly with clients, including children on the autism spectrum and their parents. They may deliver behavior analytic services and assist with implementing behavior support plans.

What Kind of Jobs Can a BCaBA Get?

BCaBA certification is often a requirement of employment by many funders and licensure boards. Certification makes it easy to verify the practitioner’s ABA knowledge and skill set. Behavior analysts and their assistants work with different types of people in a wide variety of settings. They can provide behavior analysis services to with individuals with:

  • autism spectrum disorder
  • pervasive developmental disorders
  • brain injuries

They also provide services to individuals with developmental disabilities:

  • in schools
  • at in-home care companies
  • in community clinics
  • in private practices.

BCaBAs can be teachers, language pathologists, or social workers. Understanding behavior at the level of an analyst can be used in fields like:

  • therapy and counseling
  • sociology
  • psychology
  • political science
  • Some behavior analysts work in a more scientific setting as well, conducting experiments/studies and collecting data. The possibilities really are endless.

    Can Becoming a BCaBA Help Your Career?

    Becoming a BCaBA can absolutely help boost your career. Becoming a BCaBA means you’re committed to your job and the field of applied behavior analysis, creating a better reputation for you and your employer. Not only does it look good on a resume, It also open doors to the field of behavior analysis. BCaBAs work in other careers in similar areas, like:

    • teaching
    • psychology
    • laboratory science

    If you become certified as an assistant, it’s only a few more steps to earning BCBA certification. If you want to eventually become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, starting off as a certified assistant is the way to go.

    How much does a BCaBA Make?

    Since BCaBA is a certification that’s available to people in many professions, it can be hard to nail down a definitive salary. An assistant behavior analyst salary is around $45,000 a year. These salaries are for analysts primarily employed in educational and scientific jobs. Generally speaking, a board certified assistant behavior analyst salary is a little more than someone in the same job who isn’t certified.

    There are other fields that pay more but require more education and experience. For example, psychologists and sociologists, professions that are among those whose members hold BCaBA credentials, make around $80,000.

    How to become a BCaBA

    This is an undergraduate-level certification program given by accredited organizations. In order to be apply, you must already have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. The degree can be in any discipline. In addition to coursework, you must also get a certain amount of supervised experience in the field under a BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst). Applicants must then pass the BCaBA exam through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.

    Featured Programs

    Coursework BCaBA Requirements

    There are two ways students can meet behavior analytic coursework for BCaBA certification. Aspiring practitioners can complete an ABAI Accredited Undergraduate Program or the Verified Course Sequence (VCS) at an accredited university. An ABAI accredited undergraduate program meets ABAI’s rigorous accreditation standards. These programs meet both the coursework and degree eligibility requirements needed to sit for the behavior analyst assistant exam.

    Another option students have is to complete coursework through a program at an accredited university that offers the VCS. This set of courses are verified by the ABAI as meeting the BACB’s coursework requirements. Students can find programs that offer the VCS through the ABAI’s directory.

    Both paths cover the same behavior analytic content areas. These areas include:

    • BACB Ethics Code and Code-Enforcement Systems; Ethical and Professional Conduct
    • Philosophical Underpinnings; Concepts and Principles
    • Measurement, Data Display, and Interpretation; Experimental Design
    • Behavior-Change Procedures; Selecting and Implementing Interventions
    • Personal Supervision and Management

    Once you have figured out how you plan to the relevant coursework requirements, you will need to work with your faculty mentor to determine how best to meet the fieldwork requirement.

    Fieldwork Requirements

    BCaBA candidates must complete supervised fieldwork in applied behavior analysis before sitting for their exam. Students can choose from two different types of fieldwork:

    • 1,300 Supervised Fieldwork hours, OR
    • 1,000 Concentrated Supervised Fieldwork hours

    The concentrated supervised fieldwork option allows students to complete the fieldwork portion of their certification with fewer hours and more supervision than the supervised fieldwork option. Students can complete a combination of both types of supervised experience. The BACB provides a mathematical formula for students to use when determining how many hours they’ve completed.

    There are criteria that supervisors must meet in order for the fieldwork hours qualify. The supervisor must be one of the following:

    • An active BCBA in good standing who has been certified at least one year;
    • An active BCBA certified less than one year but receiving consultation monthly from a qualified consulting supervisor;
    • A licensed or registered psychologist certified by the American Board of Professional Psychology in Behavioral and Cognitive Psychology who was tested in applied behavior analysis
    • An authorized Verified Course Sequence Instructor

    Applying for BCaBA Certification

    You’ve put in the hard work and now it is time to apply for certification in behavior analysis! There are three steps to completing your application:

    • Complete your application in your Behavior Analyst Certification Board account and provide attestations in the Eligibility Affidavit section
    • Submit your payment
    • Submit supplemental documentation including transcripts and fieldwork verification forms

    Once the BACB receives and reviews your information, they will determine if your application is approved or not approved. If your application is approved, you are ready to schedule your examination appointment!

    The Exam

    The BCaBA exam was designed to assess your knowledge of the BCaBA Task List (5th Edition). There are 160 multiple-choice questions. Students have four hours to complete the exam. Exams are taken at an authorized test site via online proctoring. In most cases, students will know if they passed or failed the exam before leaving the testing center!

    Employers, funders and others can verify certification through the Certificant Registry within 48 hours of passing the exam.

    Additional Licensure Requirements

    Some states require assistants to be licensed, while some only certify their assistants. Only 7 states require licensure:

    • Alabama
    • Kentucky
    • Maryland
    • Tennessee
    • Virginia
    • Vermont
    • Washington

    If you live in one of those states, additional requirements may need to be met. When you’re ready to pursue Board Certified Behavior Analyst certification, you’ll need an:

    • acceptable graduate degree
    • an acceptable amount of graduate coursework hours
    • 500 hours as a BCaBA

    What’s Next? Maintaining Certification

    BCaBA’s are required to complete activities to maintain their certification. These include:

    • Adhere to ethics and self-reporting requirements
    • meet ongoing supervision requirements
    • submit a recertification application and fees every two years

    BCaBA’s must complete 20 continuing education units (CEUs) each two-year cycle. They must practice under the supervision of a qualified supervisor with an active BCBA certification or a licensed or registered psychologist who was tested in applied behavior analysis.

    Related Resources:

    Top Applied Behavior Analysis Bachelor’s Degree and BCaBA Coursework Programs

    In Conclusion: How to become a BCaBA

    Behavior analysis has become an increasingly important career path in recent decades, leading to many different kinds of careers in many different fields, for many different kinds of people. These types of analysts work in a variety of sectors in society. If you’re looking to become a BCaBA, you could be on your way to a brighter future, full of opportunity, science, and education.